Components of a healthy sex life – Despite being surrounded by popular notions about sex, it can be difficult to decipher healthy sexuality from dysfunction and differentiate between appropriate sexual behaviors and unrealistic expectations that can tarnish our love lives or cause us to feel inadequate. Sexuality is much more than the act of sex — it is an emotional bonding experience for couples and leads to a multitude of psychological, mental, physical, and marital benefits.
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Sex has been linked to immune system boosts, happier moods, decreased depression, and lower levels of stress, as well as pain relief (thanks to the release of endorphins and oxytocin). Couples who maintain a sexual relationship also benefit from increased intimacy.
Unfortunately, surveys find that men and women commonly have concerns about sexual health. They wonder what is normal and how their sex lives compare to others.
Research also finds that 50-55% of married couples experience sexual problems. Anger, shame, tension, secrecy, and anxiety can easily inhibit sexual desire in relationships and create sexual dysfunction. Sex becomes unhealthy when there is high anxiety and heightened avoidance, embarrassment, and frustration. Guilt and blame also interfere with sexual satisfaction in relationships.
Unrealistic expectations set forth by society also diminish the quality of sexual experiences. For instance, many men struggle with performance anxiety and pressure because they believe that they should be instantly ready for sex. This is a huge misconception, which results in men questioning their manhood and women expecting their partners to be ready for sex at all times.
How do we gauge what healthy sex is?
While sexuality and related expectations may differ based on your religious beliefs, personality, and cultural background, here are five key indicators of healthy sexual experiences for real-life couples.
1. Sex is described as much more than the act itself, and involves physical touch, affection, intimacy, playfulness, desire, and pleasure. While many define sex as intercourse only, this ultimately creates a barrier to other satisfying sexual experiences and causes some couples to have intercourse or nothing at all.